We’re Voting Anyway


There’s an election in our town today. And Sandra and I are going AJto do our civic duty. We are going to vote.

There are three City Council candidates in our district. The incumbent, Phillip Walker, pushed for a fire fee and when that didn’t pass, voted to raise our property taxes. You can bet he won’t be my choice.

Walker is being challenged by Ricky Shirah, a perennial candidate who qualified as a candidate by saying he sleeps at his tow-truck garage but has a homestead exemption listed outside the city limits. Shirah has run for every political post I can think of since Sandra and I moved to Lakeland 17 years ago. He never wins but he never quits.

Then there’s Alberto (“you can call me AJ”) Rodriguez. Sandra watched his online video and immediately decided to vote for him. Her reason?

“I just like him.”

After pointing out that liking a candidate is not really a valid reason for voting for him, and after giving the matter due consideration, I decided to vote for AJ, too.

I don’t think he will win. He has to be about 20 years old, as he has graduated from Harrison School of the Arts and is a business student at Polk State College. But he looks about 16.

The way things are, the demographics don’t seem to be in AJ’s favor. In our democracy, ethnic origin has a lot to do with political success. AJ is from Puerto Rico and the Hispanic population in Northwest Lakeland is sparse at best. (Hispanics are more concentrated in Northeast Polk County – close to Disney World.)

And I don’t see a lot of college-age residents shopping at Publix or Winn-Dixie. Residents of our neighborhood tend to be either retired seniors or families with school-age kids.

But AJ is an impressive kid. He has a web site – the only candidate who is that tech savvy. And in the videos on his web site, he comes across as articulate, idealistic and sensible. He might not win today, but he will some day. You can bet on it.

It wasn’t easy to find out about AJ. The local newspaper didn’t endorse any of the candidates. I suppose it doesn’t want to offend any advertisers. And it took quite a bit of online searching to dig up information on the election issues.

Obviously, our little election isn’t big news.

City elections don’t attract much attention hereabouts, especially in an off-year. In 2013, only 22 percent of the voters in Lakeland went to the polls. And our supervisor of elections is estimating this year’s total will be a lackluster 14 percent.

With that kind of turnout, Sandra and I might cast the two votes that  put AJ over the top, after all.

Click for more on the election.

Click for more on the candidates.


Never-Ending War



Must America always be at war? Certainly, if  the nation’s leaders consider America the world’s police force. There will always be wrongdoers to fight against.

Viewed from this perspective, deploying troops in Syria – which President Obama vowed so earnestly not to do – might seem justified, even inevitable.

But what international law is America enforcing in Syria? Or Iraq? Or Yemen? Or Afghanistan? Or Somalia? Or Niger? Or Chad? Or other far-off countries?

Surely, to be a law enforcement agency, you must have a set of laws to guide you?

I suppose there is a kind of common law that is obvious to anyone. Beheading, raping, enslaving, looting… anything that you or I would find outrageous and barbaric must be against he law. And any self-respecting law enforcement agency would feel obliged to punish the perpetrators.

Surely, no decent person – or country – can allow groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to commit unspeakable atrocities with impunity? America has the military might to intervene. It is completely understandable that Americans should feel morally obligated to intervene.

But under what authority?

Without some kind of international authorization, any military intervention in the affairs of another sovereign nation is a vigilante operation.

After Nine-Eleven, George W. Bush gave himself the authority to attack “terrorists” wherever they might be if he felt it was necessary  in order to block planned assaults on America. Under the Bush Doctrine,U.S. foreign policy includes unrivaled military supremacy, the concept of preemptive or preventive war, and a willingness to act unilaterally if multilateral cooperation cannot be achieved.

In this global “war on terror,” America maintains a vast network of foreign bases, costing billions and employing well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors. And American troops seem destined to be perpetually in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan

This policy has expanded over the years. American forces, arms and dollars are increasingly involved in conflicts that have no apparent implications for American security.

The justification for American military involvement now includes some kind of moral imperative.

But  have America’s leaders stopped to contemplate the scope of such a mission? Human beings all over the world are prone to outrageous behavior.

I read on the Internet recently that mobs in some remote place – I think it was Borneo – are hunting “witches” and burning them at the stake. Will I soon read thatAmerican bombers and drones are bound for Borneo? And, later, that there are American “boots on the ground” there?

What about the atrocities that the press does not choose to cover? And what about the atrocities committed by America’s “allies”?

It seems to me that America’s leaders are on a slippery slope, and there’s no telling where their current policy will lead.

Throughout much of the world, injustice is rampant. Women are oppressed. Children are abused. Wildlife is poached to extinction. Rain forests are leveled. The environment is dangerously polluted…

Can America expect to fix everything? Or is that the job of an international body? The United Nations, perhaps?

Click for more on endless war.

Click for more on the war on terror.


Lots of Candy. No Kids.


I bought candy again this year but I don’t really expect any kids to come trick-or-treating in our neighborhood tonight. There were no little witches or goblins last Halloween – or the Halloween before that.

In the 16 years that Sandra and I have lived in the rambling old house at the end of Post Lane, we were visited by trick-or-treaters only once. And the kids were from some far-off neighborhood, transported to our little dead-end street by car.

One reason for the absence of the little monsters may be the ages of folks along our street. My children are all grown up of course. My grandchildren, too. Jonathan and Adam are college graduates with jobs, Adam in Miami and Jonathan on a temporary assignment in Knoxville.

Larry and Mona, our neighbors up the road, are probably in their seventies, and Marvin and Sandy are getting up there, too. Ricky, who lives with his grandmother across the road, is fortyish or fiftyish. His grandmother is in her nineties.

Another neighbor, John, died a few weeks ago, and we haven’t seen his widow, Marge, lately. Their house seems empty. Once in a while, we see young men – probably their grandsons – wandering around over there. I suppose they’re cleaning up or fetching stuff for Marge, who must have moved in with a relative.

There’s one exception, the young couple who moved into the pink house up the road a while back – and promptly painted it gray. They have since had two (or is it three?) children. The kids come rumbling down the road sometimes in their kiddie cars. And we smile and wave at one another.

One Halloween, I asked their dad why he hadn’t brought them trick-or-treating, and he said they had an event at their church.

I suppose that’s what families are doing these days – at least in our part of Central Florida. Going to Halloween “events” instead of wandering the streets.

Meanwhile, I read online that “responsible parents” are handing out carrot sticks instead of candy. If people are actually doing such a bizarre thing, it’s no wonder the kids aren’t trick-or-treating any more.

As for me, I have lots of candy – M&Ms, Almond Joy, Dum-Dums… just in case.

Click for more on “responsible” treats.


Deny, Deceive and Lie



You might remember Shaggy’s hit song, “It Wasn’t Me.” The chorus goes like this:

But she caught me on the counter (It wasn’t me)
Saw me bangin’ on the sofa (It wasn’t me)]
I even had her in the shower (It wasn’t me)
She even caught me on camera (It wasn’t me)

I thought of the song when I heard Ben Carson inidignantly deny during Wednesday’s debate that he was involved with a company called Mannatech.

Mannatech is one of those companies that promise cures for such ills as cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and autism. The company paid a $7 million settlement a few years ago when the Texas attorney general  sued over its bogus claims. On Wednesday, CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla queried Carson over his decade-long connection with the company, a conection that continued even after the settlement.

Carson’s response? It wasn’t him.

“That is total propaganda,” he said. “I did a couple speeches for them, I do speeches for other people, they were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them.”

Really? That wasn’t you in that promotional video, Ben? The one where you claim that Mannatech’s “glyconutritional supplements,” cured your prostate cancer symptoms? That wasn’t your face on the company’s web site up to last year (photo above), and in those web site videos until the Wall Street Journal mentioned them?

But I’m sure Ben Carson doesn’t care what I think. His supporters will certainly believe him, not bloggers like me, not the Wall Street Journal or anyone else. That’s the way the Republican base is.

And that’s why the  Republican candidates can get away with – as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put it – embracing a “grifter ethos.”

The Nobel Prize winning economist is not talking about the distortions, bogus math and outright lies that spew from the campaigns. He is talking about political involvement as a way of making money.

Citing historian Rick Perlstein’s reference to a “strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers,” which “goes back half a century,” Krugman explains:

Direct-mail marketing using addresses culled from political campaigns has given way to email, but the game remains the same.

He refers to such ruses as predicting economic doom as a way to promote gold sales, as well as the sale of books and videos on surviving the predicted collapse. He notes that Ted Cruz, for example, is backed by gold salesman Glenn Beck and is urging the American government to return to the gold standard.

The current crop of anti-establishment “conservatives” has apparently found even more opportunities for gaming the system.

Krugman notes that a recent New York Times investigation revealed flagrant abuse by some conservative PACs. According to the investigation, the bulk of the money raised by those PACs “ends up going to cover administrative costs and consultants’ fees, very little to their ostensible purpose.”

But so what if the hucksters are exposed? The Republican base has been brainwashed to disbelieve anything they see, hear or read unless it comes from their own propaganda machine. As Krugman observes:

You might think that such revelations would be politically devastating. But the targets of such schemes know, just know, that the liberal mainstream media can’t be trusted, that when it reports negative stories about conservative heroes it’s just out to suppress people who are telling the real truth. It’s a closed information loop, and can’t be broken…

And the flock meekly gathers, waiting to be fleeced. But the rest of us don’t have to buy the snake oil, do we?

Click for Krugman’s column.

Click for more on Carson and Mannatech.

Click to fact check the debate.

Click for Perlstein’s views.


Poor Ole Jeb!



I never thought I would feel sorry for Jeb Bush. He is tall. He is rich. Very, very rich. And he can be quite haughty. But last night he looked like a lost waif.

He plainly does not like campaigning. He said as much recently, blaming the “demonizing” that goes on in political campaigns today. And he plainly does not like having to put on those Little Theater performances his advisers dream up.

That swing he took at Marco Rubio last night, for example. It was about as convincing as some  schoolboy’s lame excuse for not doing his homework.

Rubio, Jeb’s former protégé, brushed off the assault with ease. Yes, I think Rubio is headed for the Republican nomination when the dust settles.

If you watched the Republican debate, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t you probably don’t want to know.

But, just for the record, Jeb – obviously acting on misguided instructions from some overpaid adviser – took Rubio to task for skipping so many Senate votes. If you get paid to do a job, the least you can do is show up, Jeb pointed out. Rubio not only deflected the barb by implying that everybody else in the Senate plays hooky without being criticized, he also suggested the attack was politically motivated.

“The reason you’re doing this now is because we’re running for the same position,” Rubio said amiably.  “And someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”

And then he delivered a punch line that delighted the audience:

My campaign is going to be about the future of America, it’s not going to be about attacking anyone else on this stage.


It should’ve been Jeb’s exit cue. But he was obliged by protocol to see the rest of the debate through.

It was a horrible debate. Prodded by a line of questioning designed to “poke fire” (as they say in my native Jamaica) , the candidates snarled and snapped at each other and finally turned on the moderators in an awesome display of vitriol.

After it was all over, Republican Chairman Reince Priebus lambasted the CNBC moderators, accusing them of creating a hostile environment and lobbing “one personal low blow after another” at the candidates.

I guess that’s what you get for trying to imitate Fox News.

As for America’s future, sorry Marco, the debate never really got around to that. All we viewers got was a confused and confusing mishmash of half baked tax plans, populist shibboleths, threats to wipe the floor with Hillary Clinton and scary misconceptions of such social programs as Medicare and Social Security.

At one point, Chris Christie even had the gall to advise us seniors that the government had looted our Social Security contributions and we should just get over it.

Or we could just vote Democrat.

Click for more on the debate.

Click for more on Lance Riebus.


Rise of an Empty Suit



Trubioonight’s the night. The night that could decide the fate of Donald Trump’s bizarre candidacy… that could send Jeb! back to his Miami mansion. .. that could signal the emergence of a new Republican star…

No, not Ben Carson.  Gentle Ben has all the voters he is ever going to get – the Bible thumpers, the home schoolers, the persistent prophets of the Apocalypse.

Fortunately, the religious right, while disturbingly numerous, is not the majority in America. Or even in the Republican base. Yes, there are a lot of single-issue anti-abortion voters. But I don’t see many Southern “conservatives” casting their ballots for Ben (for reasons too obvious to mention). They would be conflicted at best.

Trump’s days are numbered. And Jeb! says he doesn’t want to keep running for President if it means being demonized and having to demonize others, which I interpret as not in today’s political environment. And he rejects the idea of being President if it means presiding over gridlock. Sorry Jeb!, you are not Paul Ryan. You don’t get to take the job on your own terms.

So who will be the rising star to emerge from tonight’s Republican presidential debate?

Not Carly. She is too much of a … witch. And even at Halloween, a lot of voters will cringe when she bares her rhetorical fangs.

Not Ted. He is nasty enough to appeal to Trump’s left-over mad-hatter crowd. But he is just too unlovable to attract a broader following. With Ben sewing up the evangelical vote, Ted will be left to sweep up the crumbs.

Not John Kasich. He is to Republicans what Jim Webb was to Democrats – out of step with their current dogma.

Not Mike Huckabee, not Rand Paul, not Chris Christie, not Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal or George Pataki (who?). They’re yesterday’s news.

So that leaves… You guessed it! Marco Rubio.

Not only could Rubio be the Next Big Thing, he could be the next President.

I know. He is an empty suit. A lazy  know-nothing who was conspicuous by his absence during his job as a US senator. A spendthrift who bought a luxury yacht instead of paying his mortgage and his debts.

But he is young and looks younger. He shaves and he has a nice haircut. And a nice smile. Some people (not me!) might even call him handsome. And as Joe Biden famously said of an earlier political star, he is clean and articulate.

Furthermore, he has a Hispanic name and the Republicans need the Hispanic vote. And he has apparently outgrown the adolescent awkwardness of the water-glass episode (remember?).

Also very important,  he has managed to learn the right-wing creed by heart. Republicans can count on him to quote from the Bible and defend the fetus the flag and the financial elite on cue. He has even abandoned his support for immigration reform and adopted the party’s zero-tolerance position.

Scarily, that might be what a majority of America’s voters are looking for.

(Top photo: Trump and Carson. Lower photo: Time Magazine cover featuring Rubio.)

Click for the debate lineup.

Click for more on the debate.

Click for Jeb’s revelation.

Click for Rubio and the water glass.


Spare the Old and Sick



What sadistic impulse drives Republicans to punish the old and the sick? What cynical mind set would allow Democrats to accept such an outrage?

I ponder these disturbing questions as I await revelation of the details in a budget deal reportedly struck by retiring House Speaker John Boehner and the White House.

This is a personal matter.

As an 82-year-old diabetic with a heart condition, third-stage kidney disease and glaucoma, I rely on a Medicare Advantage plan to help me pay for my prescription medicines and other health care expenses.

An article in The New York Times casually mentions that the budget deal includes “cuts in spending on Medicare and Social Security disability benefits.” And that makes me wonder if Medicare Advantage might be under attack.

I realize that the alternative to this budget deal might be a government shutdown. And in the grand scheme of things, the survival of one individual who has lived a long and adventurous life might not seem that important. We all have to go sometime, as my kidney doctor told me.

But what about the younger folks who are disabled? The New York Times article seems to suggest the budget deal includes cuts to their benefits, too.

Is it really necessary to put them on the sacrificial altar so that the Pentagon can buy more bombs, missiles and drones? Is it really necessary for the frail and weak to die so that more people in far-off lands can be slaughtered?

If not, perhaps America’s massive spending could be trimmed in other ways.

How much will it cost to keep those troops in Afghanistan?

Does America really need to spend billions bombing Syria? And why is anyone bombing Yemen? How could those goat herders in Yemen do anyone in America any harm? Why not let the Saudis fight their own battles?

Do America’s leaders suppose the Sunis love us more than the Shia? Or vice versa? Or that bombing will make anyone love us?

What benefits have come from bombing Libya?

As far as I can see, nothing has been gained by the carnage. Old hatreds grow fiercer, old enemies grow more resolute. Yet the old, failed politics of bullying and bluster continue unabated.

Why is an American destroyer on its way to the Chinese coastline? Why is America in a stand-off with Russia?

Whatever happened to that kind word that – according to the book of Proverbs – “turneth away wrath”? Are the world’s leaders not intelligent enough to work out their differences without bloodshed?

Obsession with military might seems to be growing in America. Reports of financial waste and fraud in the Pentagon – costing billions – are ignored while politicians and the media focus on the pennies that “welfare queens” are accused of swindling to feed their children.

Meanwhile, the old and the sick anxiously await news of that budget deal. I can only hope that my fears are unfounded.

Click for the New York Times article.

Click for more on military spending.


Democracy is No Joke.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures and declares "You're fired!" at a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY



Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst possible form of government – except for all the others. And you have to wonder whether any system of government can work as long as human beings run it.

This morning I read that Guatemalan voters have elected TV comic Jimmy Morales (lower photos) as their president. Meanwhile in America, Donald Trump (upper photo) and Ben Carson continue to hold a commanding lead in Republican presidential polls.

Outraged over a government corruption scandal, Guatemalans have – apparently – become disillusioned with their political system. According to a Reuters report :

The 46-year-old Morales overwhelmingly beat center-left rival and former first lady Sandra Torres in a run-off vote despite his lack of government experience and some policy ideas that strike many as eccentric.

Eccentric. Politically inexperienced. Doesn’t that remind you of TV realty star Donald Trump? And celebrated surgeon and author Ben Carson?

It seems voters in both America and Guatemala are so fed up with politics as usual that they are opting for the most unlikely candidates in protest.

Could this be the beginning of the end of democracy in the world? After all,  it looks as if attempts to introduce democracy in the Middle East have failed wretchedly, doesn’t it?

But just as I was beginning to despair of democracy’s survival, my brother Bill phoned from London, Ontario to read me an article from his local newspaper. The newspaper described how the Native People responded to a right-wing government’s efforts to suppress their vote. It was a heartwarming story.

Among his many conservative excesses, former prime minister Stephen Harper had enacted legislation requiring voters to show official identification. He was obviously copying Republican controlled American legislatures that have been passing laws making it harder to vote in communities that traditionally support the Democratic Party.

Harper’s law made voting especially difficult for Canada’s indigenous people, who were less likely to have the required identification.

But the tactic backfired. Activists  responded by organizing voter ID clinics and firing up First Nations voters. The result was a massive turnout in indigenous communities and their election of 10 members of parliament from the opposition Liberal Party.

Indeed, all across Canada, voters turned out in record numbers. They were outraged by Harper’s “conservative” policies, which had assaulted their freedoms and undermined their economy. Harper was swept out of power in a landslide.

And those sober Canadians did not opt for some “eccentric” comedian or TV reality star to replace him. They chose 43-year-old Justin Trudeau, who seems reassuringly level-headed. Bill tells me the new prime minister – the son of legendary Canadian Pierre Trudeau – is surrounding himself with wise and able advisors, and advocating policies designed to restore Canada’s civil rights and prosperity.

Canadians are showing the world that democracy is not a joke. Not as long as the voters keep the faith.

Click for more on Guatemala.

Click for the article on Canada.


Blasphemy in Politics



Men and women far more learned than I have debated for centuries the idea of the “unforgivable sin.” According to the Gospels, if you commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, you will not be forgiven. But what does that kind of blasphemy entail?

I think it might include deliberately misinterpreting God’s Word for political advantage. And that despicable practice is rampant in today’s America.

The so-called Evangelical Movement is an example. In legislatures across the land, these political activists  are using religion and the First Amendment to enact oppressive and injurious laws. And “religious freedom” is also being cited to undermine beneficial federal laws such as the Affordable Care Act.

I am sure you are aware of the extreme anti-abortion measures passed recently by Republican controlled state legislatures. And you may remember the arguments raised by religious groups against the health care law in an effort to avoid providing birth control benefits for employees.

To me, the religious justification for this type of political action is self-serving – and possibly blasphemous. The reason? I don’t think the politicians – most of them anyway – really believe in their hearts that the Bible justifies their actions. I think they are speciously using the Constitution’s provision of religious freedom to make a case for bigotry.

I received an email this morning from the American Civil Liberties Union that illustrates what I mean. The ACLU is alarmed by a bill before the Republican controlled Florida legislature. And with good reason.

According to the email, this bill would:

… grant individuals, government employees, hospitals — and yes, corporations — and other organizations the right to refuse an extraordinarily wide range of medical care, goods, and services based on their beliefs.

Here’s what would happen if the bill becomes law:

  • Government employees could pick and choose to whom they provide government services, such as denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or driver’s licenses to transgender people.
  • A medical provider, hospital or hospice could, based on their religious beliefs, refuse to follow a patients’ directives about end of life care.
  • An adoption or foster agency could refuse to place a child with a family member who is gay or of a different faith, even if that placement is in the child’s best interest.
  • A restaurant or business could refuse service to a gay couple, or a bi-racial couple, or a person of a minority faith, or a single mom, or anyone if they claim it would go against their religious or moral beliefs.

Obviously, this kind of lawlessness is not constitutional. And the politicians promoting it must know the Supreme Court could not possibly condone it. On the face of it, the legislation would abridge the rights of those who are refused services to which they are lawfully entitled.

Yet Florida is not alone. Indiana and Arkansas recently adopted similar legislation. And  several other states have enacted”Religious Freedom Restoration” laws.

What on earth is going on?

I believe cynical politicians are pandering to bigots who cloak themselves in religious robes to hide their ego-driven intolerance. Like those shiny sepulchers in the Bible, these bigots are rotten at the core. And while they may hope for forgiveness, I wonder whether those who exploit their frailty will be so fortunate.

Click for more on the unforgivable sin.

Click for more on the Florida bill.

Click for more on religious “freedom”


Hillary and the “Demons”



hillaryHalloween came early for Hillary Clinton yesterday. Over an interminable 11-hour stretch, she was taunted and prodded by a cast of characters that reminded me of a horror show the church next door used to put on every October. It was called “Hellbound” and it was designed to warn teenagers of the consequences of sinful and reckless behavior.

One of the scenarios in that show featured a young girl suspended from an oak tree on our property line. A cast of red-costumed demons surrounded her, hissing and cackling.

“You’re ugly,” they told her over and over. “You’re dumb. You have no friends. You might as well hang yourself.”

The message from Hillary’s “demons” was slightly different, but just as mean.

Their objective, it seemed, was to get her to admit that she was so incompetent and uncaring that she didn’t lift a finger to save the four Americans who were killed in the Benghazi terrorist attack. And that she was so heartless that she didn’t even bother to visit the wounded survivors.

Of course nothing could be farther from the truth, as Democrats on the committee kept pointing out. And as Hillary made abundantly clear with her calm, thoroughly documented rebuttals.

But the inquisitors would not be deterred. They were so relentless that a “Free Hillary” hatch tag emerged on Twitter during the hearing.

Their line of “questioning” got so outlandish that it would have been funny if it were not so depressing.

Alabama Republican Martha Roby, for example, wanted Hillary to confess that she had callously refused a request for extra security at the consulate, and that she neglected to check on her wounded staffers.

Roby, for no apparent reason, wanted to know whether Hillary was alone on the night of the attack. And Hillary burst out laughing at the possible implications of the question.

Roby growled that she did not “find it funny.” Her face livid, her forehead furrowed and her eyes like burning coals, Roby needed only a red costume to double for one of the “Hellbound” demons.

The other Republicans on the committee were equally extreme.

Mike Pompeo of Kansas tried to suggest some kind of conspiracy between Hillary’s “team” and Al Qaida operatives. He failed to back up his insinuation with details, however, and it became obvious to me that a “meeting” he cited as evidence never occurred.

Ohio’s Jim Jordan, among Hillary’s most persistent persecutors, zeroed in – time and again – on such peripheral events as Susan Rice’s appearance on a Sunday TV show. Rice had suggested the Benghazi attack was linked to widespread demonstrations against an internet video disparaging the prophet Mohamed.  Jordan accused her of misrepresenting the attackers’ motivation so as to influence the 2012 presidential election. He blamed Hillary for instigating the “cover-up.”

“Where did the false narrative start?” Jordan asked accusingly. “It started with you, Madam Secretary.”

Hillary patiently – and repeatedly – explained that the attack occurred while demonstrations provoked by the video raged throughout the Middle East. Early intelligence understandably “conflated” the events, but further investigation revealed an Al Qaida affiliate was responsible for the Benghazi attack.

Among many other insinuations and accusations, Peter Roskam of Illinois blamed Hillary for everything that has gone wrong in Libya, accusing her of forcing a reluctant Obama administration to get involved and then trying to take political credit for it. He acted as if he expected her to break down and abjectly confess that he was right.

Through it all, Hillary maintained her poise. And in the end, she emerged not only unscathed but with her presidential campaign stronger than ever.

As AP reporters Ken Thomas and Lisa Lerer concluded in their analysis today:

Hillary Rodham Clinton turned an 11-hour congressional grilling into a campaign call to action on foreign policy, using a make-or-break appearance before the Republican-led Benghazi committee to display a commanding, presidential presence under a barrage of questions.

Click for the AP analysis.

Click for another report.

Click for an example Roby’s interrogation.